It doesn't get any bigger than this. The eyes of the nation focused on one game between two bitter rivals-one of which has dominated the series historically, the other which has dominated in recent years.
Yes, it's the renewal of the once and future most bitter rivalry in the country as the Kansas Jayhawks make the short drive down I-70 to play the team from the school well-mannered people rarely mention--following their mothers' admonition that if you can't say something nice about someone, say nothing at all.
Although there is only one game of any significance this weekend, a few others will be played for the amusement of the participants and to give their followers something to do when the game in Manhattan has ended.
This week's picks#, including IQ's (i.e., Interest Quotient: *=Isn't the Dukes of Hazzard movie out on DVD? *****=You know that Pink Floyd reunion concert you paid $500 a ticket for? Fuhgeddaboudit. You can catch it on disc later)
1. KU +6.5 @ k-state*****
KU's offense has serious problems with consistency. Its defense can play with anyone. k-state does nothing particularly well, but probably has an offensive edge in this game. KU has the overall edge, however, because its D will force k-state to attempt numerous punts-which should lead to a safety or two.
I would make KU a slight favorite on a neutral field. In Manhattan, k-state, in a frenzy to avoid falling back to its traditional No. 2 slot in Kansas football, probably deserves to be slight favorite. But not by 7 points. You have to score 7 to win by that many.
BTW-if KU does take out k-state out on its home turf in a game k-state desperately wants and needs, k-state's run as a self-proclaimed football power will officially be over, and not likely to resume in the life span of anyone watching Saturday's game either in person or on the tube.
2. OU +13.5 vs. Texas (Dallas)****1/2
This game should have a quarter remaining when the KU/k-state game ends. It is of some regional interest to those south of Wichita and north of Matamoros.
UT has five years of frustration built up. If they don't beat OU this year with the better and more experienced team, they might as well forget about it until UT alum Joe Jamail slips $20 mil or so to an NFL owner to lure Stoops out of Oklahoma.
Stoops owns Mack Brown. Of course, that's as special as owning a Kia Sorrento. And Stoops has comparable athletes-with the exception of Vince Young. Unfortunately, Stoops' players, while not named Young, are young in other ways. Unless Brown completely psyches his own players out, UT will grab an early lead and never look back. They get a one year respite from being the butt of OU's taunts.
3. Mizzou -5.5 @ Okie St**
Mizzou favored on the road? Yes, Okie St might be the Big 12's worst team, but that is due to the Big 12's top to bottom strength-or should I say close to the top to bottom. The conference has only one strong team, but no terrible ones. Mizzou would win this game handily in Columbia. In Stillwater, with the points, I will take:
4. Texas A&M +3 @ Colorado***
A&M was the luckiest team in the country last week. They should have lost by two TD's to Baylor at Kyle Field. How they intend to stay close to the Buffalo Stampede a mile higher in altitude is hard to imagine.
5. Texas Tech -4 @ Nebraska****
Toughest game of the week to figure. Having seen Tech in person last week, I cannot truthfully say they were impressive. Cody Hodges is a notch to two below Tech's recent high-powered QB's. This is his first road game in a notoriously difficult place for your road debut.
On the other hand, Nebraska has not been particularly impressive itself. Their offense did wake up a bit against an Iowa St defense that is superior to Tech's, they are at home, and they have a big time revenge factor with the memory of the 70 on the Tech side of the scoreboard last fall still etched vividly in their minds.
This game goes to the team whose offense makes the fewest costly mistakes. Because they are at home, I'll reluctantly take
6. Baylor +9 @ Iowa St**1/2
Baylor is a competent team. Like KU, though, they will not get credit for being vastly improved until they get that signature victory on the road. I don't think it will be this week, but there aren't too many Big 12 teams that are going to run away and hide from them this season.
7. Mississippi St +28 @Florida*
Is Florida hopping mad or what after being abused by Alabama last Saturday? They will not let up in this game until all of their demons are exorcised.
8. Georgia +3 @ Tennessee*****
Tennessee was on the verge of fading into oblivion after losing to Florida and then falling behind LSU to the tune of 21-0. Having come all the way back in that game, they are now on a roll. This is Georgia's first test of the season.
9. Wake Forest +20 @ Florida St*1/2
Wake Forest came alive last week with a nice victory over Clemson. That was in Winston-Salem. It will be a different story in Tuscaloosa.
10. Minnesota +7.5 @ Michigan****
I thought Minnesota would hang tough a little longer before watching its season explode in its face. Halloween arrived early this year for the Golden Pumpkins-errrr, Gophers.
11. Ohio St -3 @ Penn St*****
Is Joe Pa all the way back, or was last week merely the natural consequence of playing Minnesota in October? Penn State always plays OSU tough, and Ohio St has yet to prove itself this year. The Nittany Lions go for their eighth consecutive W.
12. Iowa +5 @ Purdue**1/2
Two teams with high pre-season hopes that are now struggling to become bowl eligible. Iowa did serve notice that it is not going gently into the good night with its 35-7 pummeling of Illinois last week. Purdue has lost two in a row-albeit to Minnesota when the Golden Pumpkins were hot, and to Notre Dame, which may be a Top 5 team. The Boilermakers will not only be boiling, but desperate.
13. Air Force +1 @ Navy*1/2
How can you not love a matchup between the two top service academies footba;;-wise? Easy, if you like watching exciting football. At least it should be close.
14. Oregon +9.5 @ Arizona St***1/2
The two teams that have had USC on the ropes the last two weeks. ASU had the Trojans on the ropes longer, and are at home. They cover if they put the USC game behind them.
15. Cal +1.5 @ UCLA*****
A matchup of undefeateds. Cal is used to winning these types of games. UCLA, in the midst of a comeback season, is not there yet.
Hey, Wreck, Silo Tech!
1. These picks are for entertainment purposes only.
2. You get what you pay for.
3. There are no refunds.